Out of Spite
Disclaimer: I don't own OffBeat
Tory Blake didn't have a lot of friends. His closest was his upstairs neighbor, Paul, who was in college. But even though he and Tory were good friends, Paul had a life outside of Tory, too. Sometimes Paul wanted to do his own things, and sometimes those things didn't involve Tory.
Unfortunately, because Tory was an only child, he was used to getting a lot of attention, and sometimes, he felt that he was entitled to lots of attention without consciously knowing it, which resulted in him acting like a brat. Such was the case one Friday evening.
Tory was supposed to play video games with Paul, but as he was making his way up to the college-student's apartment, he ran into Paul rushing down the stairs.
"Hey, where're you going?" asked Tory.
"Out," said Paul.
"But we were supposed to hang out tonight!" said Tory.
"Oh, was that tonight? Aw, crap," muttered Paul. "Yeah, I can't tonight, actually."
"I have to go to this party. It just sort-of came up, sorry. I've got to go," said Paul.
"Wait…!" yelled Tory. But Paul was already out the door. Tory was stunned.
That bastard! he thought. Tory had really been looking forward to playing video games with Paul tonight. And now Paul suddenly had a party to go to? And since when did Paul have friends outside of Tory? That possibility had never even crossed the red-headed boy's mind.
Nevertheless, Tory continued to climb the stairs up to Paul's apartment, just for the heck of it. He was surprised to find the door open ajar. Apparently in his haste, Paul had forgotten to close and lock the door. Tory let himself in. The apartment was messy and smelled of cigarette smoke. Tory instinctively waved his hand in front of his nose in an attempt to wave the smell away from his face, even though there was no actual smoke in the room; just he smell. There were beer cans and fast food wrappers strewn about, at which Tory scoffed. Such a mess! It was a wonder their building didn't have mice. Or maybe they did, Tory didn't know!
After having made his way over to Paul's computer desk, Tory's eyes came across a sticky-note with an address written on it. Using his detective-like mind, Tory concluded that this address must be the place where this party Paul was at was being held, and he memorized it instantly.
Then, acting on impulse as usual, Tory decided to go to that party himself. He would not be ignored!
After about half an hour of walking, Tory reached the address. He figured he'd gotten it right, because he could hear music coming from the house. Walking up the porch like he owned the place, he knocked on the door casually. After about ten seconds, it was answered by a guy who looked to be about Paul's age.
"HEY!" he yelled over the pounding music. "CAN I HELP YOU?"
"YEAH, I'M A FRIEND OF PAUL'S! IS HE HERE?" Tory answered.
"YEAH, COME ON IN!"
"THANKS!" said Tory, stepping over the threshold and into the house. After scanning the room full of smoke and half-drunk people, all Tory came across was more smoke and more half-drunk people. However, he found a couch in the back of the room and sat down on it.
After about fifteen minutes of just sitting and doing nothing, Tory's quiet sit was interrupted by a drunk chick who just came up and started talking to him.
"HEY! WHAT'S UP?" she yelled.
"NOT MUCH!" Tory answered, humoring her.
"WHAT'S YOUR NAME?"
"I'M JESSICA!" she answered, shaking his hand with her left hand, since her right one had a drink in it. "DO YOU GO TO NYU?" Tory shook his head.
"NO. I'M IN HIGH SCHOOL! I GO TO ST. PETERS!" Tory explained.
"REALLY? THAT'S COOL!" said the girl. "SEE YOU AROUND!" and she got up and left.
Ten more minutes passed and the guy who had answered the door came up and found Tory.
"HEY, YOU'RE PAUL'S FRIEND, RIGHT?" he yelled.
"WELL, TECHNICALLY I'M HIS LANDLORD!" Tory yelled back.
"OH YEAH, HE'S TOLD ME ABOUT YOU BEFORE! AREN'T YOU ONLY LIKE SIXTEEN?"
"YEAH, WHAT'S IT TO YA?" Tory challenged.
"NOTHING, MAN! HEY, PAUL'S OUT BACK, I THINK!" he yelled.
"THANKS!" and Tory proceeded to make his way through the crowds and out to the backyard. Having made it, he sighed in the more quiet atmosphere of the outdoors; there wasn't any pounding music out here, though there was a circle of people beer-bonging out of a keg. Paul was not among them, though. Tory decided to stick around anyway, as it was much quieter and less smoky out here.
Back inside, word had gotten around that "Paul's friend" or "Paul's landlord," had arrived. The drunk girl, Jessica, had found Paul and conveyed the message to him.
"HEY, PAUL! YOU KNOW THAT LITTLE RED-HEADED KID? TORY?" she said.
"HE'S HERE! HE'S LOOKING FOR YOU!" she informed him.
"WAIT…WHAT?" yelled Paul, not certain if he'd heard her correctly. Just then the party's host, also known as 'the-guy-who-had-answered-the-door' tapped Paul on the shoulder.
"HEY! PAUL, YOU KNOW YOUR LANDLORD'S HERE?" he said.
"WHAT?" Paul asked again. Tory was actually Paul's landlady's kid, but he still knew whom the guy was talking about.
"YEAH, I TOLD HIM YOU WERE OUT BACK!" said the guy.
"THANKS, MAN!" Paul yelled. Then he went out into the backyard to look for Tory.
Once out in the backyard quiet, Paul heard his phone ringing. He answered it. "Hello?"
"Hello, Paul?" It was Tory's mom. "I just tried calling you like eight times!" she sounded panicked.
"Do you have any idea where Tory is? He's not in his room! I tried calling his cell phone but it must be turned off or something!"
"Uh, actually…Tory's with me," said Paul.
"Yeah, listen, I'll explain everything later, Ms. B. But right now, everything's cool, OK? I've got to go." And he hung up. Searching the backyard for Tory, Paul finally found the teenager, leaning against the back stairs, drinking what appeared to be beer. Paul stomped over to Tory and knocked the plastic cup out of his hand and onto the ground.
"Hey! I was drinking that!" complained Tory. Paul grabbed him by his shirt collar and got in his face.
"What the hell are you doing here!?" he demanded.
"Put me down, you asshole!" Tory yelled. Paul could sense a hint of beer-related tipsiness in Tory's voice. Plus, he could smell it on his breath.
"You're mom just called me for the ninth time! She's worried as hell!" Paul continued to yell; he'd set Tory down, but was still holding him by his shirt collar.
"Alright, alright, I'll call her and tell her where I am! Sheesh!" said Tory.
"I don't think so," said Paul. "I'm taking you home right now!" he grabbed Tory's arm.
"Hey! No! Let go! You're not the boss of me!" Tory yelled.
"Like hell I'm not!" snarled Paul.
"Let go--!" Tory continued to complain and struggle against Paul's grip.
"Shut up!" screamed Paul. Taken aback and frightened, Tory went limp and let Paul drag him away from the party and out onto the sidewalk. "Come on."
"Motherfucker…" muttered Tory under his breath.
"How did you get here anyway?" asked Paul.
"You're such an idiot," Paul sighed, still holding tight Tory's arm.
"You can let go of me. I can walk, you know!" Tory said.
"Shut your mouth!" yelled Paul. "If you were alone you might get mugged. It's the fucking middle of the night!" Tory said nothing and the two boys continued to walk home.
Once during their trek, Tory had to bend over into the street to puke-- his body was too young to digest alcohol. "You OK?" asked Paul, having stood back from the curb.
"Yeah, I'll be alright," rasped Tory, wiping his mouth.
When the two of them reached home, Tory's mom ran to her son and hugged him.
"Oh, Tory! Thanks goodness! I was so scared!" she cried. "Thank you for bringing him home, Paul. I don't know what I'd do without you."
"Sorry, Mom," said Tory, remorsefully. Paul just shrugged modestly.
"You are in serious trouble, Tory!" said Ms. Blake, now more angry with her son than scared for him. "We'll discuss your punishment in the morning. Now go to your room!"
"Actually, Ms. B., if it's OK, I'd like to talk to Tory. Alone," said Paul.
"Of course," said Ms. Blake. "Thanks, again, Paul." And she left the two to talk.
Paul climbed to the top of the stairs leading up to his apartment and sat down on the top step. Tory did the same. It was about thirty seconds before either of them spoke.
"Are you going to say anything to me?" Tory asked timidly. Paul slowly turned his head to Tory.
"What the hell is wrong with you?" he asked.
"What do you mean?"
"You know damn well what I mean, Tory! Why the fuck did you follow me to that party?" Paul asked.
"What's it to you? You bailed on me! I can do what I want! What do you care?" Tory fought back.
"Argh! Tory, I said I was sorry!" said Paul.
"Yeah, but you didn't mean it!"
"Of course I meant it! Tory, just because I couldn't play video games with you tonight is no reason for you to sneak out and follow me to a party you had no business being at! What the fuck were you trying to prove?"
"Well what reason did you have to just blow me off like that?" demanded Tory. "What makes it OK for you to just up and bail?"
"For one thing, I TOLD you the reason why! Second, I have my own life to live! The world doesn't revolve around you, Tory! Sometimes you just have to deal with it. You can't always get your way!"
Now Tory felt that Paul was getting off the subject; actually, he just didn't want to hear this again. He didn't want to be told he was spoiled and selfish.
"Hey, I have a right to be mad!" was all Tory could think to say.
"Look, Tory," said Paul. "I know I said we'd hang out tonight. But like I said, this party just came up. And I know it wasn't fair to you, but there were going to be a lot of people there whom I haven't seen in a while. Some people I haven't seen since high school. And some of them were only in town for the weekend. You understand? I mean, I can hang out with you any day. I really wanted to see my old friends, OK? I know that's hard for you to understand, since you don't have any friends--"
Now Tory felt Paul was really out of line. "Shut up! So what if I don't have as many friends as you? We're still friends, aren't we? Don't I still have a right to be pissed when you just break a promise to me?"
"Yes, but that was no way to go about it! Tory, look, you're smart. We both know it. But you do stupid things! Do you ever bother to think before you do things?" Paul grumbled. Tory's eyes started to glaze over with tears, and he turned away from Paul.
"I was just mad, OK?" he whimpered. Paul's expression softened. "I mean, I was really looking forward to hanging out with you."
Paul put his hand on top of Tory's head and pulled the smaller boy close to him. "Come here, brat," he whispered. "Look, I'm sorry, too." Tory sniffed. "I know what I did wasn't fair to you. And I'm sorry." Tory felt a little less vulnerable now, and closed his eyes as he rested his head on his friend's shoulder.
"Me too," he said softly.
"We'll hang out next weekend, OK?" said Paul.
"Well, if I'm not grounded…" muttered Tory.
"Oh yeah. Well, you'd better go apologize to your mom, kid," said Paul.
"Yeah, OK. Goodnight, Paul," said Tory, getting up and heading downstairs.
"'Night Tory," said Paul.
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